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Ina Garten is hands down one of the most beloved cooks in America today. Many people know her as the Barefoot Contessa. Countless others have tried one (or more) of her recipes and most likely have one of her many cookbooks on a shelf at home. Her foolproof recipes have delighted millions and inspired them to keep trying new creations and honing their skills.
Her brand is one of elevation, and education but also simplicity.
On her Food Network TV show, Barefoot Contessa, she frequently offers up the phrase “store-bought is fine,” if you don’t happen to have a particular homemade ingredient at your disposal.
Another of her frequently uttered phrases that she says in every episode is something along the lines of, “Ok, let’s clear the decks.” She says this in reference to clearing plenty of space on her kitchen counter (or bench, as it’s also sometimes called) so that she can easily and efficiently work.
At the start of every show, Ina dives right into her food prep and before you know it, bottles and jars and mixing bowls and spoons and canisters are everywhere (which is, in my opinion, part of the fun of watching this and other cooking shows). So when it comes time to assemble the casserole or pour some heavenly mixture into a pan or tray, she’s now in need of ample elbow room.
Hence, it’s time to “clear the decks”. She quickly stacks the used bowls together, nestling them within each other. She throws in the measuring spoons and cups. Jars, bottles, and canisters get cleared off to the far sides of the counter.
The end result is space. Space for Ina to work and to think. To easily look up at the camera to share what she’s doing with her loyal viewers. And undoubtedly, the viewer probably also feels this newfound counter space on a subconscious level, too. They know all too well what it’s like to be in the kitchen, creating a recipe, moving through each step, and then suddenly realize that there’s not as much room as they had previously.
Here’s some food for thought: How often do you “clear the decks” in your business?
How frequently do you take a step back for that all-important aerial view of your business, your list of priorities, your calendar, your desk (the list goes on) to not only really see how much space you HAVE, but how much space you NEED?
It’s incredibly easy for our best-laid plans to get away from us. For tasks that we vowed to complete at the start of the week to limp along each day, barely touched. For our schedules to get so crammed that we barely have a moment to think throughout the day. Or for our desk to become a dirty and inhospitable space to attempt to work each day.
So, as you continue to layer the flavors of your own business, to be in creation of a new tasty offering to your loyal clients, or adding new ingredients to your next project, I invite you to regularly pause.
Pause so that you can stop, think, consider, and clear the decks wherever it's needed.